Saturday, January 01, 2005


Can't you smell that smell?

The Rose Bowl will never be the same.

The Texas Longhorns are your 2005 Rose Bowl winners.

It's going to take a long time for those burnt orange stains to be removed from the grounds of the Rose Bowl. Is there a more overrated college football program in America than Texas? If there is, I'd like for someone to call me out on this in the comments box.

Every year, Mack Brown lands some of the best recruiting classes in all of America. And for the past 5 seasons, those recruits have gotten their asses handed to them by Oklahoma. Yet, when the Longhorns celebrated after beating Michigan, you would think that they had just beaten the Sooners.

As for Brown, he is a scumbag. He's classless in every sense of the word. He campaigned for the Longhorns to be in the Rose Bowl and he got his way. If Cal had the "history and prestige" of Texas, there's no doubt in my mind the Bears would have been in Pasadena today.

Am I impressed by Texas today? Absolutely not. I've watched my fair share of Texas games over the past few years. This program has no business playing in a bowl game like the Rose Bowl. With their so-called talent and tradition, they should be contending for a national championship every season. But they won't do so as long as Mack Brown is in charge. And guess what? He just signed a 10-year extension to stay in Austin.

In my opinion, Michigan isn't the best team in the Big Ten. Iowa is the best team in the Big Ten. Granted, the Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes, but I'm sticking to my story. Iowa's defense sure as hell would have put up a better effort against Vince Young, who's basically a poor man's Matt Jones. Jones just doesn't get the hype because he's not playing for the almighty Texas Longhorns.

As a guy who grew up on the West Coast thinking the Rose Bowl was THE bowl game, I'm really pissed off about Texas winning in Pasadena. And it only gets worse:

The Rose Bowl is the national championship game next year. God forbid Mack Brown's bunch actually beats Oklahoma and makes it to Pasadena next January.

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2005 is here.

We're halfway through this decade. It's too early to speculate how this decade will be looked upon years from now, but expect VH1 to create a new series called "I Love The 2000s" in 2011. I'm still flabbergasted as to how they have done the "I Love the 1990s" series already. As a matter of fact, there's going to be a second version of "I Love the 1990s", premiering on January 17. In the immortal words of Lil Jon...


Yes, I know the title of this blog is "Sports and Bremertonians". But we've always hit on a lot of topics here, especially if those topics can relate to sports. Some people tell me I'm very good at bringing everything back to sports. It's a gift, I guess.

Before I go on, I'd like to thank the USS Mariner for keeping us linked. Hey, we are the only non-exclusive Mariner blog linked there. We're doing something right. At least I think we are, anyway.

---It's the first day of the new year and it should be no surprise to anyone who reads this that I'm watching the bowl games. Hey, the Outback Bowl was competitive again! Last year, Iowa kicked Florida's ass up and down the Raymond James Stadium turf. This year, Georgia beat Wisconsin by 3 points, although I never did have the feeling that the Badgers would win this game. Their 9-0 start has been long forgotten, as they close out the 2004 season with 3 straight losses (Michigan State, Iowa, and now Georgia).

---Iowa is currently leading LSU, 17-12, in the Capital One Bowl. It used to be called the Citrus Bowl, but that evil company known as Capital One took over the naming rights. I call Capital One evil because they always send me junk mail. It never fails to see at least one Capital One letter every two weeks. I rip it up immediately, because I know it's not a letter from the hot brunette that was in one of their commercials last fall. Story of my life.

---The Gator Bowl? It's the one bowl game on New Year's Day I don't care about at all. It's also the only bowl game the Notre Dame Broadcasting Company televises. The next "meaningful" sporting event to be televised on NBC will be Arena Football next month. It would have been the NHL, but we all know that's not the case.

---The Cotton Bowl is a f**king dump. It doesn't help matters that Tennessee destroyed Texas A&M 38-7. I watched 30 seconds of this game. Then I realized, "how can I take a bowl game seriously by a network that doesn't televise college football at all during the regular season?" By the way, FOX will take over the BCS TV rights in 2007. That's if there's a BCS in 2007.

---(Edit at 11:35 Pacific: No word on whether The List Eater decided to show up in Dallas or not. You need to watch the video in that link. It's worth it, trust me.)

---Ugh. I just saw Mack Brown walk into the Rose Bowl on ABC. Like Christine Taylor in "Dodgeball", I just think I vomited in my mouth.

---This is the one time where I'll root for Michigan. This has nothing to do with Cal at all. I hate Texas with a passion. This was the case before I moved to Arkansas, in case you were wondering. Seeing burnt orange in Pasadena...

---Yep, that was me vomiting in my mouth again, because I couldn't finish that sentence.

---Hey, we have college basketball today! ESPN has Georgia Tech-Kansas. It's a rematch of the Elite Eight matchup last season, which the Yellow Jackets won. If I had to choose 5 venues where I would want to watch a college basketball game, here's my list:

Gallagher-Iba Arena (Oklahoma State)
Allen Fieldhouse (Kansas)
Bud Walton Arena (Arkansas)
Smith Center (North Carolina)
Rupp Arena (Kentucky)

Honorable mention: L.A. Sports Arena (USC)

Yeah, I'm joking. The L.A. Sports Arena is pathetic.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

We'll keep on bringing it this year, I can promise you that.

Hook this, Mack.

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Here it be, the first post of 2005.

The P-I has named their athletes of the year for 2004. Ichiro and Lauren Jackson were named pro athletes of the year for their respective genders. I should note that in yesterday's Bremerton Sun, Tara and Dana Kirk's run to Athens was named sports story of the year, and given enough content to fill pages 1 and 2 of Friday's sports section. I'd link it to you, but the only reason I've budged is because to see the article, you'll need to register. To register, they want your mailing address, soemthing which I find to be so incredibly wrong. I'm also not sure if the mailing address thing makes it BugMeNot-proof or not. Thankfully for me, I get the print edition. If I ever move out of town, though, I might have to succumb to the Sun's evil registering ways. Absolutely preposterous.

The only thing more sorry than Ruben Studdard for 2004 was the Mariners' season. Ugh. At least December was good. Also, I'm brimming with anticipation for the Mariners' new batch of commercials in a couple months here. The Sexson/Beltre ad merely gets the job done, but that's all it does. However, you can't go wrong with an ad featuring Dave Niehaus voice-overs. "The bash is back!"

The new year is upon us and Mrs. Holmgren wants a more sensitive Mike. The fallout from losing has Mike dragging some of his frustrations home. But the calendar just turned the page. The whole year just turned the page. How about an undefeated 2005? Yeah, it's a stretch. I'll gladly take five wins in a row starting on Sunday, and ending the season in February. Sounds good to me. Clare Farnsworth also has some things he hopes the Seahawks get done in the new year.

Aside from Robbie Tobeck being handed a miniature game ball, the other news is that Walter Jones and Heath Evans practiced, Darrell Jackson is expected to start, and Matt Hasselbeck will start.

Yes, it's the second column in a week regarding the Seahawks putting Seneca Wallace on the scout team to mimic Michael Vick (say those last three words five times really quickly). Of course, the nugget is that Mike Holmgren might use Wallace for returning and/or wide receiving (implied by the article) next season. Of course, this assumes Holmgren is back as head coach of the Seahawks next year.

The Marvin Williams Watch
North Carolina hosts the College of William and Mary on Sunday, and is off until the following Saturday when ACC play kicks off; they'll be hosting Maryland.

There are three articles on the Huskies' 81-67 win over the Cal Bears. I hadn't had a good week when it was coming to college sports. Between Gonzaga losing and a ton of my big-confidence prognostications coming up empty in that ESPN tournament thing, I wasn't too enthused when Cal had the lead in the second half of this game. But like the Sonic game last night, luckily one team was just plain better than the other, and too good to lose that night.

The Huskies host Stanford tomorrow in a game which conveniently will run concurrently with the Seahawk game. Then the Huskies travel to USC on Thursday.

Gonzaga is off until they travel to Santa Clara to open West Coast Conference play on Thursday. They'll be at Saint Mary's the following Saturday.

For my piece on last night's game, scroll down a post (or click here if this post is archived).

There are many candidates as to who might be the x-factor on this Sonic team, but I think I'm going to have to go with Vladimir Radmanovic. They can win without Radmanovic doing well, but it's not as easy. If Vlad is on, I think the Sonics are very hard to beat. Of course, Percy Allen's article also says that Vlad's lack of defense led to Okafor's career night and Brezec's 22-point contribution. Also, Danny Fortson and Jerome James had some problems with the refs for the second straight game, though this time with no ejections. Fortson correctly said, "Drama is OK as long as you win. Drama really looks bad whenever you lose. Thank God we won this game or else I'd be answering a whole different set of questions." Ray Allen also suggests that the sharp elbows of Fortson may be getting the Sonics a mental edge over opposing teams that may want to travel into the paint.

Danny O'Neil highlights two of Rashard Lewis' plays down the stretch. Lewis stole the ball from Gerald Wallace and got a dunk on the other end. Also highlighted was a play involving the jump-hook I referred to in the game post. Lewis had to arc that one over Emeka Okafor and Wallace, which is no easy task. I'd have to say it is kind of surprising to see that the Bobcats didn't get to the free-throw line even once in the 4th quarter.

Back to Danny Fortson and refs, it appears that Fortson is definitely on the s#&@ list of referee Jim Clark. Pointing the index finger after the game before walking off the court? Yup, Danny's definitely on his bad side. Why does a referee have to show this? Clark also T'd up the Sonic bench after no one answered the question, "who said that?!" As Nate said, "he said something was said to him. But you don't go chase it. You let it go." Unsurprisingly, no one was able to reach Clark for comment after the game.

Monday at Miami
Wednesday at Orlando
Thursday at Washington

Seattle beat Portland, 3-1. Seattle is clearly the better team and pulled out the likely outcome, but their second goal (Denis Tolpeko) came on a two-line pass that was never whistled. Dan Da Silva of Portland got into a scrum with Gibbons and equal penalties were handed out until Da Silva got a 10-minute misconduct tacked on for arguing the call. To the dressing room went Portland's leading goal scorer. Cody McLeod of Portland got into a skirmish with Bretton Stamler, and only McLeod was sent to the box. Chris Durand cashed in, making it 3-0 Seattle around the halfway point of the third period. Seattle apparently had some things go uncalled in front of their own net; Cody McLeod got plowed while waiting for a pass on the boards to get to him, Shane Halifax slashed Zack FitzGerald of Seattle from behind after the former was checked into the post. That drew a 5-minute major, but the subsequent pulling of FitzGerald to the ice, also from behind, drew a 5-minute match penalty. He might not play in the next game, let's just say that much. Derek Couture, Tolpeko, and Durand scored for Seattle, and Brian Woolger got the only Portland goal. Portland outshot Seattle 32-25. Dustin Butler stopped 22 for Portland, and Bryan Bridges stopped 31 for Seattle. Scott Jackson of Seattle was the only plus-2 player in the game.

Chicago beat Manitoba, 4-3. Chicago has a Finnish goalie, something which is a great asset lately (ref. Calgary Flames). Kari Lehtonen did the job in the Chicago net and spoiled the Moose's New Year's Eve party. Ryan Kesler scored twice in the first period and the Moose headed into the dressing room ahead 2-1. Chicago was able to tie it in the second period. Three Moose penalties early in that second period enabled the Wolves to reel off 10 straight shots. Chicago found themselves up 4-2 with just under 10 minutes left in regulation. Kent Huskins scored on the powerplay to bring the Moose within one, but that was as close as they'd get. Chicago outshot Manitoba 29-27. Lehtonen stopped 24 for Chicago. Wade Flaherty stopped 25 for Manitoba. Manitoba starting goalie Alex Auld is still in Switzerland playing for Canada in the Spengler Cup.

Tri-City and Puget Sound skated to a 3-3 overtime tie. The Tomahawks were able to salvage the tie out of it with 2:45 left in the game, but the Tomahawks had their chances, including a late power play, and some instances in the second period where loose pucks were near the crease and they had two or three skaters around the crease but none of them could ever get a stick on the puck and put it up toward the net. The tie wouldn't feel so bad if Portland wasn't nipping at the Tomahawks' heels in second place. Mike Truex sat out for reasons described in the link. Anyway, they'll have the league's leading scorer back tonight, and it should help a lot.

Also, play at the World Juniors starts up again today.
Today: Germany vs. Switzerland (relegation game), Finland vs. Czech Republic (quarterfinal), United States vs. Sweden (quarterfinal)
Tomorrow: Slovakia vs. Belarus (relegation game), Canada vs. CZE/FIN (semifinal), Russia vs. SWE/USA (semifinal)

Everybody have a happy, fun, and safe start of the year for 2005.

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Friday, December 31, 2004


SuperSonics 103, Bobcats 97

(content posted ~11:57p)

Well, I was dismayed when I saw the Sonics blow that 13-point lead and have to play from behind in the third quarter. They let the Bobcats have a little bit, and then they got a bit of confidence and got the lead. Luckily the Sonics are good and pulled it off.

I've heard people knock him for it before, but I saw for myself on a couple of occasions that...Ray Allen isn't the greatest defender. I actually saw Ray Allen on two or three occasions have his man raise up for a shot and Allen just let him have it, uncontested, no hands in the face of the shooter, nothing.

There were a couple of good dunks by Rashard, and it looks like he's shaken off that horrible night against Philadelphia on Tuesday. You know what? I love that 10-foot jump-hook he's developed, I really do.

Vlad Radmanovic was dialing it in from three late in the game, to the point where the crowd was groaning at times whenever he got the ball on the perimeter with nobody near him.

Brevin Knight finished with 15 assists for Charlotte, and could have had more if he didn't have foul trouble (and if he didn't foul out altogether). He was a solid point guard when he was at Stanford and has toiled around the NBA for a few years, but he didn't let Luke Ridnour have a lot tonight. Also for the Bobcats, Emeka Okafor was his usual self (crap, he's good), and he had one block where he just royally stuffed Radmanovic. Also, Primoz Brezec had 22 and 9 boards for Charlotte, and that's no small task with Fortson and Evans down low. Jahidi White is still Ja-Monstrous. Dude's huge.

You know who this team missed over the last week or two? Antonio Daniels. They didn't totally blow without him, but when he was gone it seemed like that different dimension off the bench at the point was missing.

Rashard Lewis 27 pts/4 reb (12-22 FG, 3-6 3pt), Ray Allen 18 pts/4 ast/2 stl (6-16 FG, 3-8 3pt, 3-6 free throw), Luke Ridnour 6 pts/7 ast/4 turnovers, Reggie Evans 2 pts/10 reb

Vlad Radmanovic 21 pts/7 reb/2 ast (8-12 FG, 5-7 3pt), Antonio Daniels 10 pts/7 ast (3-7 FG, 4-4 free throw), Nick Collison 10 pts/4 reb (4-9 FG), Danny Fortson 9 pts/8 reb/4 turnovers

Jerome James Watch
0 pts/0 reb/1 blk/2 turnovers/3 fouls (0-1 FG, 0 minutes)...in other words, a complete nonfactor

shot 48.8% from the field, shot 50% (11 of 22) from downtown, shot 14-for-18 from the line (77.8%), outrebounded Charlotte 38-37, bench outscored Charlotte's bench 50-27, bench outrebounded Charlotte's bench 21-10

Obviously, Lewis and Radmanovic was key. They had more players score double figures off the bench than they had doing so in the starting lineup.

And how about Nick Collison's line? Here's Collison's points-and-rebounds numbers for the last five games...
22 Dec vs. Denver -- 6 pts/8 reb, 20 minutes
27 Dec at Utah -- 6 pts/7 reb, 17 minutes
28 Dec vs. Philadelphia -- 5 pts/6 reb, 19 minutes
30 Dec at Atlanta -- 10 pts/11 reb, 22 minutes
31 Dec at Charlotte -- 10 pts/4 reb, 18 minutes

That's an average of 7.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 19.2 minutes a game for Collison. Yeah, rookie!

Hey, the Sonics are 22-6 going into January. Amazing.

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HOPE IS..... 

It's the final day of 2004 and you're probably expecting me to make some New Year's Resolutions for 2005.

Well, I'm not going to do that.

New Year's Resolutions are pointless at best. Let's be honest, you set a resolution and by January 24, you've broken it. It happens all the time.

Hopefully everybody has a Happy New Year. 2005 should be a lot better for the majority of us. At least I hope so, anyway.

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...because "Sorry 2004" was just a horrible song.

You know, even when I miss just one day of these things, I feel like I lose a little sharpness.

Happy New Year's Eve to all of you.

Blaine Newnham's piece...he implies that the Mariners overpaid for Adrian Beltre, which flies in the face of the general consensus that they got a hell of a deal for him.

The Seahawks have mangled Jim Mora Jr.'s defenses in San Francisco for the past five years. Unfortunately he isn't Atlanta's defensive coordinator this Sunday, but rather the head coach. Apparently even starting Matt Hasselbeck doesn't seem like as sure a thing as I thought it would be. He threw deep in practice yesterday though, so that's a plus. The Mike Holmgren ideal formula is also stated: complete 65% of passes, pass 60% of the time, give 22 carries to the run and five receptions to the running back. Also, did you know that Seneca Wallace makes the ideal scout team Michael Vick? That's in the latter link.

To say the Seahawks will have a few free agents after the end of the year would be a gross understatement. Ten starters on Sunday will be free agents after the season. What should the Seahawks do? I think the top priority is Shaun Alexander. The other two are Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones. I guess my gripe is...did Holmgren or Ferguson ever think about guarding against this possibility of having everyone and their mother eligible for free agency at the same time? Does this just happen or is it just bad planning?

The Marvin Williams Watch
AP photo -- Gerry Broome
In North Carolina's 107-64 stomping of Cleveland State, Marvin Williams had 14 points, 6 rebounds, an assist, and two steals in 22 minutes of play off the bench. Jeremy also reports that Marvin is a stud on ESPN College Hoops 2K5. North Carolina hosts the College of William and Mary on Sunday, and is off until the following Saturday when ACC conference play kicks off; they'll be hosting Maryland.

The day has come. The Huskies start conference play tonight against the Cal Bears today at 1:30. Pieces on Will Conroy and Jamal Williams have been written to get thee warmed up for the game.

Click here or scroll down two posts for Jeremy's piece on last night's game against Missouri. Gonzaga is off until they travel to Santa Clara to open conference play on Thursday. They're at Saint Mary's the following Saturday.

For my painfully short piece on the game, scroll down three posts or click here.

The recaps for the radio-only game are here and here. One fact from the game that didn't get into the articles: the Sonics used as much zone defense in the first half as they had this whole season, according to Kevin Calabro on the radio.

Art Thiel has his article on this Euro-like team. No huge low-post threat, but it's true...this may screw the Sonics come April and the playoffs, but it's all they've got.

Also, say goodbye to Ron Murray's minutes. At least he's saying the right things.

Tonight at Charlotte
Monday at Miami
Wednesday at Orlando
Thursday at Washington

Since none of the WHL teams usually covered in this space played last night, and I didn't do a Thursday post, here's the games that would have been on the Thursday post.

Seattle beat Everett, 3-1. Twenty-four wins for the T-Birds equals their total for all of last year, and they got two more points of cushion on Everett in the standings. All the goals in this one came in the third period. Shaun Heshka got the Silvertips the 1-0 lead, but the T-Birds scored the final three goals to get the win. Seattle outshot Everett 11-3 in the third period and 32-15 in the game (not surprising to see Everett get outshot). Bryan Bridges stopped 14 for the win, and Mike Wall stopped 29 for Everett. Denis Tolpeko and Chris Durand were plus-2 for Seattle.

Prince George beat Portland, 6-3. The Cougars scored two first period goals and never trailed. Portland tie the game at 2-2 early in the second period on goals by Brian Woolger and Brandon Dubinsky. Dan Da Silva scored in the latter stages of the third period for Portland, but his goal only made it 5-3. The Cougars' 6th goal was an empty-netter. Cody McLeod of Portland tied Adam Deadmarsh for 15th all time in penalty minutes in Winter Hawks history. Portland outshot Prince George 34-32. Dustin Butler stopped 27 in his 18th straight start in the Portland net.

Tonight: Seattle at Portland, Chicago at Manitoba, Tri-City at Puget Sound
Tomorrow: Spokane at Vancouver, Seattle at Everett, Portland at Tri-City, Tri-City at Puget Sound

Pool play is over at the World Junior Championships with the outcomes of these games...

Czech Republic beat United States, 3-1. Okay, I can see losing to the Czechs. Going into the tournament, that probably wouldn't have surprised me. I could have seen the United States coming out of pool play 2-2, losing to the Russians and Czechs. Of course, when they beat the Russians in the first game, that got the expectations up a little bit, and then the roof fell in with the loss to Belarus on Wednesday. Vladimir Koutsky stopped 38 for the Czechs, who got their first and last goals from Rostislav Olesz. Dan Fritsche scored the only USA goal, late in the second period, a goal that cut the deficit to 2-1. The USA outshot the Czechs 39-34. Al Monyota stopped 32 for the USA.

Canada beat Finland, 8-1. If Canada can beat Finland like this, they should have the tournament sewn up in their favor barring anything shocking. Jeff Carter got the hat trick, and Corey Perry got two goals. Andrew Ladd of Calgary and Shawn Belle of Tri-City were the WHLers scoring goals. Canada outshot Finland 51-20. Canada chased the opposing starting goalie for the third game in a row. Jeff Glass of Calgary stopped 19 for Canada.

Russia beat Switzerland, 6-1. Marco Kaser scored on the power play to put the Swiss on the board early in the second period. The problem for the Swiss was that Kaser's goal was the only one they scored. That cut their deficit to 2-1. Then the Russians scored the final four goals. Washington Capital draftee Alexander Ovechkin scored twice for the Russians. Russia outshot the Swiss 38-17. Michael Tobler stopped 32 for the Swiss, and Anton Khubodin stopped 16 for the Russians.

Sweden shutout Slovakia, 3-0. Johannes Salmonsson scored the firts and last goals for the Swedes, and David Raitio Berguv stopped all 32 shots. Jaroslav Halak stopped 27 of 30 in the Slovak net.

So the pools shake out as...
Russia 3-1-0
Czech Republic 3-1-0
United States 2-2-0
Switzerland 1-3-0
Belarus 1-3-0

Canada 4-0-0
Sweden 2-2-0
Finland 2-2-0
Slovakia 2-2-0
Germany 0-4-0

I heard the tiebreaker was goal differential, though I'm not sure how they applied it, and the official site is down. Here's the standings at TSN, with the goals for and against.

Tomorrow: Germany vs. Switzerland (relegation game), Finland vs. Czech Republic (quarterfinal), United States vs. Sweden (quarterfinal)
Sunday: Slovakia vs. Belarus (relegation game), Canada vs. CZE/FIN (semifinal), Russia vs. SWE/USA (semifinal)

Drive safely if you're going out tonight. We like our readers, and we like all our readers to stay alive and stuff so they can continue reading and/or discovering Sports and B's.

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Thursday, December 30, 2004


Guess what my rating was for the Holiday Bowl in the Sonic Bowl Mania Challenge???




Well, at least the Bears players have one thing going for them. They don't have to travel back to Lubbock, Texas after this game. And hell, it's not like the people back in Berkeley give a damn anyway.

One important point that nobody is making about Cal's struggles tonight is that they are without their top wide receiver Geoff McArthur, who got hurt in the Southern Miss game Dec. 4. It doesn't make up for the fact that Cal got their asses handed to them by Texas Tech, but it's a legitimate point nonetheless. Aaron Rodgers could have used McArthur tonight. Hell, he could have used Chase Lyman as well.

The lesson I've learned in the past week about myself?

I'm bowl challenged.

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Missouri 63, Gonzaga 61

Gonzaga was the first non-conference ranked opponent to play in the Mizzou Arena tonight. Unfortunately, they are also the first ranked opponent to lose in the Mizzou Arena, losing 63-61 to the Missouri Tigers.

The Zags were led once again by junior college transfer J.P. Batista, who scored 17 points. Erroll Knight scored 10 points and was Gonzaga's sparkplug for the majority of the night. The former Washington Husky may finally be able to breakout this season for the Zags.

Missouri was definitely a step ahead of the Zags. This was the second game in three nights for Gonzaga, coming off of a victory over Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. However, I don't think tonight's loss in Columbia will hurt Gonzaga too much. They already have wins over Washington, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma State on the resume. A 2-point loss on the road in Missouri is not an excuse to downgrade Gonzaga's resume, not even close.

Gonzaga will head into West Coast Conference action next Thursday night at Santa Clara, which will be televised on ESPN 2. The Gonzaga-Santa Clara game is one of three games being bandied about on ESPN as part of their "Send Dickie V. Packing!" promotion. Fans can vote where Dick Vitale will head next Thursday at ESPN.com.
The game that receives the highest votes is where Vitale will go. The results will be announced on Saturday during the Georgia Tech-Kansas telecast on ESPN.

Gonzaga. Santa Clara. Next Thursday. ESPN 2. West Coast!

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SuperSonics 94, Hawks 79

Q: How can Nate McMillan use all 12 of his active players in the same game?

A: Have two of them get ejected.

Jerome James got mad at a call by Bob Delaney and used some "magic words," as Kevin Calabro said. I had to hustle in for my interview about halfway through the third quarter, so I didn't get to hear Danny Fortson get ejected.

A sizable run in the second quarter pretty much sealed it for the Sonics, who scored 61 first-half points (they led by 17 at half) and somehow ended up with only the 94. Luke Ridnour scored 9 first-quarter points and Nick Collison had 10 points and 7 boards at the half.

For atmosphere, a live band was playing during actual gameplay. It was weird hearing Calabro call live action with music in the background, that's for sure. At one point, Craig Ehlo was having trouble with Nate McMillan blocking his view of the play on the court. Kevin Calabro responded with the story of his rookie initiation as announcer for the Kansas City Kings. Calabro said that the late Cotton Fitzsimmons would block the view of the play, and that Cotton knew exactly what he was doing.

Since I have no visual confirmation for what went on, I have nothing left but the peek...

Ray Allen 20 pts/3 reb/5 ast (8-15 FG, 3-3 3pt), Rashard Lewis 17 pts/3 ast/4 reb/2 stl (6-10 FG, 2-4 3pt), Luke Ridnour 13 pts/3 reb/5 ast/2 stl (6-10 FG), Reggie Evans 3 pts/8 reb/3 ast

Antonio Daniels 11 pts/3 ast/3 reb (3-9 FG, 4-4 free throws, 20 min), Nick Collison 10 pts/11 reb (22 mins), Vlad Radmanovic 7 pts/3 reb (2-11 FG, 2-7 3pt)

Jerome James Watch
6 pts/2 reb/2 blk/5 turnovers (13 mins, ejected)

shot 46.7% from the field, shot 9-for-17 (52.9%) from downtown, were outrebounded 42-41, held Atlanta to 38.8% shooting from the field, outscored Hawks in bench points 35-23

What's the stat of the day here? Ron Murray played seven minutes. Welcome back, Antonio Daniels.

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Two things...

-- No daily post today because I had to choose between doing the daily post or having some sleep for a job interview. Call me crazy, but I think I might be making the right choice here.

-- The post for Sonics/Hawks will be up whenever I can get back to the computer, probably some time in the late afternoon or early evening. Any notes that I may have gotten from actually watching the game will be sparse due to the fact that FSNNW isn't televising the game to begin with. Did I mention how ridiculous the 11am start is today? Do you think anyone in Atlanta is taking a couple of hours off work to see the Hawks tip off at 2pm local time?

Third unrelated note: that USA/Belarus junior hockey game last night? I saw most of it. I know the players are all under 20, but that was pretty embarrassing. Poor passes in their own zone, lots of easy chances early. He didn't have a lot of help, but Corey Schneider wasn't making any key stops early either. It hurts a little more because he's been drafted by the Canucks, but oh well.

I should be back to normal posting habits tonight.

Have yourselves a jolly New Year's Eve Eve.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Since it is another holiday weekend, I'm going to do the Pick Me Up today.

Last week, I was 10-6.

For the 2004 season, I'm 151-88 (.632 winning percentage). I did miss the first game of the season, Indianapolis-New England, but only because I didn't start the Pick Me Up until the day after that game. But I digress.

This is the final week of the 2004 regular season. We know that the Seahawks are in the playoffs already. But what will happen to other teams, such as Buffalo, Denver, Jacksonville, Carolina, Minnesota, and New Orleans?

Every game this week will be on Sunday. There is no Monday Night Football game this week. So we have 16 games on Sunday. Good times.

Here they are, my Week 17 picks:


Miami at Baltimore
(Jim Bates deserves a chance to be a permanent head coach in the NFL)

Pittsburgh at Buffalo
(The Bills deserve to finish 10-6. Ben Roethlisberger will likely miss Sunday's game.)

New Orleans at Carolina (FOX, televised in Arkansas)
(UPSET OF THE WEEK!!! You know what, let's go nuts here. I'm taking the Saints. It's not like I'm putting money on this. I get this one right, I get it right. If I don't, I don't. I just have a feeling that the Saints steal this one in Charlotte.)

Green Bay at Chicago
(The Bears beat the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 2. They won't be so lucky this week.)

Cleveland at Houston
(The Texans would finish 8-8 with a win over the Browns)

San Francisco at New England
(LOCK OF THE WEEK. Do I need to explain why?)

Cincinnati at Philadelphia
(Donovan McNabb may just take one snap)

New York Jets at St. Louis (CBS, televised in Arkansas)
(The Jets aren't in the playoffs yet. For their sake, they need this game. The Rams have no business being a .500 club. And if the Jets win in St. Louis on Sunday, I may just end the "Blow Up The Meadowlands" campaign.)

Detroit at Tennessee
(If the Lions can find a quarterback, they could be a team to watch in 2005)

Minnesota at Washington
(This one will come down to the wire, but I think the Vikings pull this one out)


Tampa Bay at Arizona
(Arizona is in the same boat as Detroit IMO)

Atlanta at Seattle
(The Seahawks should finish 9-7. Need I say more?)

Indianapolis at Denver
(The Broncos have no business being in the playoffs. Cut that meat!)

Jacksonville at Oakland
(Way to show up last week, Jaguars)

Kansas City at San Diego
(Marty Schottenheimer, Coach of the Year)


Dallas at New York Giants

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So what would the playoff matchups look like if everything went according to this week's Pick Me Up?

AFC scenarios
NFC scenarios

Pittsburgh (14-2, AFC North champs, homefield advantage)
New England (14-2, AFC East champs, first-round bye)
Indianapolis (13-3, AFC South champs)
San Diego (12-4, AFC West champs)
New York Jets (11-5, Wild Card)
Buffalo (10-6, Wild Card)

Wild Card Round: BUF at IND, NYJ at SD

Philadelphia (14-2, NFC East champs, homefield advantage)
Atlanta (11-5, NFC South champs, first-round bye)
Green Bay (10-6, NFC North champs)
SEATTLE (9-7, NFC West champs)
Minnesota (9-7, Wild Card)
New Orleans (8-8, Wild Card)

Wild Card Round: NO at GB, MIN at SEA

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Enjoy the games, everyone.

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2004 may just be the most frustrating sports year of my life.

So what better way to rehash the most frustrating year of my sports life than to look back at the year that was 2004?

There was definitely a lot to be frustrated with during the year of 2004. The Mariners lose 99 games, the Seahawks are part of possibly one of the worst NFL divisions in years, and the NHL lockout.

Here's our archive page, where you can look back at the year 2004. I think David has everything archived up until the first week of November. This page is otherwise known as "Weekly Descriptions and Static M's Blog Links". For our posts post-November 6, just scroll down on the Archives sidebar and you can find the links for the weeks post-November 6.

A list of the happenings in 2004 at Sports and Bremertonians:

---Al Harris ends the Seahawks season
---Vladimir Guerrero signs with the Anaheim Angels
---Kazuhiro Sasaki leaves the Mariners to go back to Japan
---Detroit Sports Net's Justin Spiro reports Ivan Rodriguez coming to Seattle
---David and Jeremy take over the DJ booth at Safeco Field

---The Seahawks offseason hype begins: Sportsline ranks them at #4 in power rankings
---Bremerton's Marvin Williams named to McDonald's All-American Team
---Alex Rodriguez traded to New York Yankees
---Markus Naslund receives concussion at Colorado (just the beginning)

MARCH 2004
---Grant Wistrom signs with the Seahawks
---The Todd Bertuzzi Incident
---Eastern Washington makes first-ever NCAA Tournament
---Bremerton's Miah Davis leads Pacific to first-round upset over Providence
---The New Light Bat
---Tara Kirk sets world record in 100m breaststroke, U.S. record in 200m breaststroke
---Bobby Taylor signs with the Seahawks
---Bremerton's Marvin Williams plays in McDonald's All-American Game

APRIL 2004
---Canucks win the Northwest Division
---Willie Bloomquist starts at 3B on Opening Day, M's lose 10-5
---Mariners start 2004 season 0-5
---Canucks lose to Calgary in first round
---RIP Pat Tillman
---The Towel!
---The end of Kevin Jarvis' undeserved stint as a Mariner
---Jeremy and David take on Blender's 50 Awesomely Bad Songs list

MAY 2004
---Lisa Guerrero ousted at "Monday Night Football"
---Mariners blow 6-0 lead to Yankees on May 9, lose 7-6
---The Disembodied Voice, no longer disembodied
---Seattle, tortured sports town
---Jeremy's house gets hit by lightning, can't do jack on Sports and B's for a week
---Randy Johnson records perfect game in Atlanta
---Mariner Optimist stops blogging on May 20 until the M's win 5 straight
---Jeremy returns to Sports and B's
---Even Bill Simmons feels sorry for Seattle fans
---Breaking News: Pedro Martinez still owns the Mariners
---Curt Schilling near-perfect against the Mariners

JUNE 2004
---"Beaver Fever, SNATCH IT!"
---Qwest takes over naming rights at Seahawks Stadium
---Jeremy and David just hate the "Take Me Fishing" commercials with a passion
---Tampa Bay wins first Stanley Cup, defeating Calgary in 7 games
---Photobucket enters Sports and B's lives
---David leaves Sports and B's for six weeks (geology field trip in Oregon)
---Texas fan takes foul ball away from little boy
---RIP Ralph Wiley
---Detroit wins NBA Championship, knocking off the Lakers in 5 games
---Ken Griffey, Jr. hits 500th home run at St. Louis
---Rangers take over 1st place in A.L. West
---Jeremy recaps the NBA Draft
---Freddy Garcia traded to Chicago White Sox

JULY 2004
---Tara and Dana Kirk, Justin Adrian swim at Olympic Trials in Long Beach
---Tara and Dana qualify for Athens
---Rich Aurilia and John Olerud designated for assignment
---David returns to Sports and B's
---Bucky Jacobsen comes to Seattle and flat out rakes
---Ricky Williams retires from football
---Sonics steal Danny Fortson from Dallas
---Mariners snap 15-game road losing streak
---Nothing happens for the M's at the trading deadline (not a big surprise)

---Seahawks begin training camp in Cheney, no Walter Jones (again)
---St. Louis steals Larry Walker
---Ron Villone begins his quest for a long-term deal
---Carlos Tosca fired as Blue Jays manager, Jeremy and David laugh
---Edgar Martinez announces retirement at end of 2004 season
---John Olerud returns to Seattle, but as a New York Yankee
---The Kirks in Athens
(Tara finishes 5th in 100m breaststroke final, Dana 9th in 200m breaststroke semifinal, Tara earns silver medal in relay event)
---Sports and B's turns 1 year old
---Chad Brown gets hurt
---Ichiro gets 200th hit

---Mariner Optimist returns (had not blogged since May 20)
---Seahawks win season opener at New Orleans
---Canada wins World Cup of Hockey
---NHL Lockout begins on Sept. 15
---Seahawks beat Tampa Bay (thank you, Michael Boulware)
---David goes to North Dakota, misses Seahawks 34-0 trouncing of San Francisco
---Pedro's little friend Nelson de la Rosa is also Sports and B's little friend

---Ichiro breaks all-time hits record, records 262 hits in 2004
---Edgar Martinez retires from the game of baseball
---Anaheim wins A.L. West
---Mariners fire Bob Melvin
---Seahawks blow 27-10 lead to St. Louis, lose 33-27 in overtime
---Seattle Storm win WNBA Championship (it's something, I guess)
---New England beats Seahawks 30-20, bucking the SI Jinx
---The rumors of Koren Robinson's drug suspension are leaked
---Grant Wistrom out 4-6 weeks (knee fracture at NE)
---Jerry Rice traded to Seahawks for 7th round pick
---Mike Hargrove hired as Mariners manager
---Boston comes back from 3-0 deficit to knock off the Yankees in ALCS
---St. Louis wins N.L. pennant over Houston in 7 games
---Seahawks crap the bed in the Valley of the Sun
---Ashlee Simpson lip-synchs on "Saturday Night Live"
---Red Sox win first World Championship since 1918, sweeping the Cardinals
---Seahawks hold on to beat Carolina

---Keith Gilbertson to resign at end of 2004 season as Washington football coach
---Sonics lose by 30 in season opener against the Clippers
---Seahawks beat 49ers 42-27
---Sports and B's hit queen Paige Davis comes to Pine Bluff, AR (Jeremy's current hometown)
---Ron Artest wants time off to promote his album
---Johan Santana wins A.L. Cy Young, will likely start for Twins April 4 against M's
---Sports and B's receives pub from the Bremerton Sun
---Seahawks lose to Rams again, 23-12
---Terrell Owens/Nicolette Sheridan "Monday Night Football" scene causes uproar
---Pacers-Pistons ugly brawl in stands, "The Malice in the Palace"
---Washington State wins first Apple Cup since 1997, beating Washington 28-25
---Michael Boulware saves the Seahawks from embarrassment against Miami
---Koren Robinson finally received his suspension from the NFL
(4 games for violating the NFL's anti-substance abuse policy)
---Cut that meat!
---Are the Sonics for real?
---Marvin Williams and North Carolina wins Maui Invitational
---Washington wins Great Alaska Shootout (beat Utah, Oklahoma, and Alabama)
---Seahawks destroyed by Buffalo 38-9
---Tyrone Willingham fired at Notre Dame
---Martin Gramatica released by Tampa Bay

---Gonzaga beats Washington
---No steroids at Sports and B's
---Sports and B's changes address to bremertonians.blogspot.com
---USC and Oklahoma to play in Orange Bowl; Cal gets screwed, sent to Holiday Bowl
---Seahawks lose to Dallas on "Monday Night Football" 43-39
(12/6/98-12/6/04: Vinny Testaverde)
---Itula Mili, Laie Elementary School
---Dan Wilson re-signs with Mariners
---RIP Dimebag Darrell
---The Sun's Adam Kispert bashes hockey; David takes him to task
---Seahawks win big game in Minnesota, 27-23
---Tyrone Willingham hired as Washington's new head football coach
---EA Sports signs deal with NFL to be the lone video game maker for NFL games
---Texas A&M List Eater
---Richie Sexson signs with Mariners; Sports and B's one of the few positive voices
---Adrian Beltre signs with Mariners; everybody is positive
---Tim Hudson traded to Atlanta
---Mark Mulder traded to St. Louis
---The Oracle of Kevin Bacon
---Gonzaga beats Georgia Tech in Las Vegas
---Seahawks can't buy a break at the Meadowlands, lose to the Jets 37-14
---Terrell Owens hurts right ankle, out for rest of season
---Pedro Martinez ditches Nelson de la Rosa and Boston for the Mets
---Jeremy parodies Chad Pennington's press conference
---Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, and Steve Hutchinson earn NFC Pro Bowl nods
---RIP Johnny Oates
---RIP Reggie White
---Seahawks clinch playoff spot, beat Arizona 24-21
---Gonzaga beats Oklahoma State in Oklahoma City

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So there you have it, the year 2004 according to Sports and Bremertonians

Hopefully 2005 will be better.

It has to be.

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Well, I guess there's a bit of Mariner rumblings, the pieces left to pick up after a Sonic loss, and the requisite hockey action.

Read on, won't you?

It's been a while since I've been able to take the chance to be snotty at an article about the Mariners (today's is Andriesen's), and I'm a bit rusty, so please bear with me. I think I reached for the sickbag twice while reading this article. The first time? That was after the mention of Aaron Sele. The second? That had to do with the placement of the phrase "pleasant surprise" in close proximity to Ron Villone's name. Yeah, it's a pleasant surprise when he leads the team in victories with EIGHT. I've been a big believer this whole time that his value to this team is horrendously overrated. I know when he started he was doing a decent amount of spot starting, but when he was a regular in the rotation, and he wasn't getting past the sixth, well, that doesn't make me much too happy. At least it didn't last season when he was getting four days' rest and then he'd come out and throw 5 2/3 on 110 pitches or something after the rest of the rotation imploded and the bullpen would be dog-tired and screwed until Madritsch's turn came up again.

The bottom line? "Effectively wild" is an oxymoron.

Sign Odalis Perez. Keep Villone out of the rotation altogether.

I guess I can toss in an obligatory vomiting to the notes tacked onto the end of the piece where the names of Darren Oliver and Todd Ritchie are mentioned.

No Seahawk has ever led the NFL in rushing at the end of a season, but Shaun Alexander has the chance to do exactly that. He's sitting on 1616 right now. Three cheers for Shaun and three cheers for the offensive line.

Three more cheers for video game football. If ESPN didn't decide to make all of Bill Simmons' more-than-one-month-old columns exclusive to Insider members only, I'd link the article where he said that someone came up to Bo Jackson after some sort of speaking engagement, asked for his autograph, and then this autograph seeker lauded Bo for being unstoppable in Tecmo Bowl (or some old-school game, if Tecmo Bowl is incorrect). The other hilarious thing about the article is the paragraph about the attribute ratings of the players, and apparently Byron Leftwich was a bit sour on his rating.

The Marvin Williams Watch
North Carolina beat UNC-Wilmington by a score of 96-75. In 24 minutes off the bench, Marvin Williams had 10 points (2-for-5 shooting, 6-for-8 from the line), 6 rebounds, and a steal. He also got whistled for a technical foul, one of three in a flurry of T's for North Carolina. The Tar Heels host Cleveland State tomorrow.

Washington is off until opening Pac-10 play on New Year's Eve against the Cal Bears.

Gonzaga won a huge game last night, and here's Jeremy's piece, which can also be reached by scrolling down two posts (if this isn't in the archive).

For my thoughts on the game, scroll down one post or click here if archived.

Since I cranked out all that Sonicness earlier, I'll just try to see if the beat writers got anything that I left out.

Basically, I hadn't seen a defensive output that bad since the Seahawks in the Monday night game. You're not going to win many games by allowing 114 points. Rashard Lewis' too-little-too-late three in the waning seconds of the game accounted for his only points of the second half. Also, Ray Allen confesses that with Ron Murray now in the guard rotation, "there's no rhythm."

Jayda Evans says that the big Sonic run of the game that brought them to within 3 in the third quarter was a 15-5 run. But she also says that Ron Murray "also has played well" since coming back from injury, which (sans the one game) I heartily disagree with. I know any assessment of his performance right now is probably flawed since Antonio Daniels' first game back was last night. Theoretically with Daniels back, Ron Murray shouldn't have to bring the ball up the floor, which is a very good thing. Murray is more of a pure scorer than anything, and he's definitely not a point guard -- he's proved this on many occasions by holding/dribbling the ball on the perimeter for 10 seconds at a time in the halfcourt sets. The guy isn't one to make the extra pass, from what I've seen, and since his natural inclination is for scoring (he bricked 8 of 10 against Utah on Monday), it's a good thing that Daniels is back, because I don't want to see Murray as a point guard ever again this season. This leaves him officially now as the guy who's supposed to spell Ray Allen. We'll see how it goes. I guess the point here is that if there's a halfcourt set, I feel completely comfortable with saying that the ball has got to go through the hands of Ridnour or Daniels somewhere in the possession. I don't think the same about Murray, because he's a pseudo-ballhog. He's not a point guard. Welcome back, AD.

As for the Sonics' 17-point deficit in free-throw attempts, Frank Hughes says that Bill Kennedy is "a referee the Sonics have had problems with in the past."

Reggie Evans is half of the Evans/Fortson duo tabbed by Kevin Calabro as the Bruiser and the Crusher (though Calabro hasn't distinguished which is which). Evans works hard and does the dirty work down low in the first and third quarters, grabbing rebounds and occasionally putting back shots. I know I've brought this up multiple times, but I can't stress this enough -- Evans tweaked his free-throw technique a few games ago (maybe the Phoenix game) and now he's reaping the benefits. He's definitely getting a lot more arc on his free throws, most likely a byproduct of bending the knees a bit. Before we know it, Evans and Fortson together might shoot free throws a ton better than Shaq or Tim Duncan. They might already.

How about some press for Nick Collison? He put up some solid numbers in the back-to-back set and seems to get decent inside position and comes up with the occasional putback to boot. In other news, I can't even fathom any high school team of mine going 101-1. That's insane.

Tomorrow at Atlanta
New Year's Eve at Charlotte

Here's a short article on Keith Gerhart, the only play-by-play voice in the history of the Everett Silvertips. Of course, they've only been in existence since last year, but it's still true. I'm thinking it would probably be real hard not to be a total homer if one was to become a junior hockey broadcaster. Gerhart eats and travels with the team, and attends a ton of the practices, so I suppose the closeness to the team might make it hard to rail on the third-line defenseman every once in a while for coughing up the puck in his own zone.

Everett shut out Spokane, 2-0. The headline in the Times article proclaims that the T-Birds stood tall behind Wall, but there's a team mixup there. In any event, Mike Wall fended off 34 shots in the Silvertips' victory. Alex Leavitt scored the winning goal by rattling one off the post and past Jim Watt of the Chiefs in net. Leavitt also set up Karel Hromas for the final goal of the game. The Silvertips have six players not with the team due to international competitions. Spokane outshot Everett 34-24. Mike Wall stopped all 34 of his shots for the 'Tips, and Watt stopped 22 for Spokane.

Lethbridge beat Vancouver, 3-2. Lethbridge won their second game in two nights without their stud defenseman Brent Seabrook, who is playing for Canada in the World Junior Championships. In Giant coach Don Hay's opinion, the Giants were the better team for the first two periods, but the Giants ended up with the loss nonetheless. The Giants drew a 1-0 lead in the first period thanks to a Triston Grant one-timer. Vancouver scored their second goal in a "desperate" third period thanks to Mitch Bartley on the power play. However, the two Vancouver goals straddled the three-goal output by the Hurricanes in the second period thanks to a goal off the goalie's skate and a couple of turnovers. The Giants outshot the Hurricanes 25-14. Adam Jennings stopped 11 shots for Vancouver, and Aaron Sorochan stopped 23 for Lethbridge. Vancouver's normal starting goalie, Marek Schwarz, is the starting goalie for the Czech team at the World Junior Championships.

Portland beat Prince George, 3-2. The Winter Hawks held the Cougars scoreless on nine power plays en route to victory. On the scoresheet, the Winter Hawks scored the final three goals of the game to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the first period and take the win. With the win, Portland snapped both a six-game winless streak overall and a six-game road winless streak. There's a tiny bit of venom in Joel Scruggs' recap at the Portland site, but apparently the first period saw some questionable penalties along with the questionable award of a penalty shot to Prince George. Either way, Brett Parker scored twice to account for the Cougars' scoring, all in the first period. Cody McLeod pounced on a Brandon Dubinsky rebound late in the first period to cut the deficit in half, then McLeod stormed right out of the dressing room and tied the game 21 seconds into the second period. On a Portland power play, Adam Lukacovic of the Cougars giftwrapped the winning goal for the Winter Hawks by making an ill-conceived pass to Portland's Dan Da Silva, who potted the winner on a give-and-go with McLeod. Dustin Butler stopped 25 (16 in the final frame) in his 17th straight start. Portland's other goalie Blake Grenier was finally listed as a backup, but defenseman and team plus-minus leader Michael Sauer may need season-ending hip surgery. Portland outshot the Cougars 30-27. Real Cyr stopped 28 for Prince George, and as mentioned, Butler stopped 25 for Portland. I believe the Portland recap more than the boxscore in this case, because there's some discrepancies here between both.

Cleveland beat Manitoba, 3-2. Regular Manitoba goalie Alex Auld is with Team Canada in Switzerland for the Spengler Cup. Wade Flaherty started (and pitched a shutout) in the Moose net last night. As a result, Rob McVicar was called up from Columbus of the ECHL, and it was trial by fire for him in his first AHL start as he was peppered with pucks. The Barons took an early 1-0 lead halfway through the opening period, but Jason King tallied a shorthanded goal with Wade Brookbank doing some time to tie the game at 1-1. McVicar stopped all 15 second-period shots he faced, but the Moose were only able to get off six shots of their own in the other end. At one point from the end of the second period to the beginning of the third, the Moose killed off five straight Cleveland power plays. In fact Jason King scored once again shorthanded to get the Moose a 2-1 lead. With 1:05 left in the game, Cleveland pulled their goalie and it worked as Shane Joseph tied the game to send it into overtime. Cleveland finally made good on their seventh straight power play and tenth power play in the game as Ryane Clowe ended it for the Barons. Manitoba was badly outshot 45-21. McVicar stopped 42, and Dimitri Patzold stopped 19 for Cleveland. Ryan Kesler was the lone assister on both of the King goals; he was plus-2.

Tonight: Everett at Seattle, Portland at Prince George
New Year's Eve: Seattle at Portland, Chicago at Manitoba, Tri-City at Puget Sound
New Year's Day: Spokane at Vancouver, Seattle at Everett, Portland at Tri-City, Tri-City at Puget Sound

There's all the pressures of being a good hockey player, there's the pressures of playing for a national team, etc. But it gets to a whole other level if your name is Chris Bourque. Yes, there's pedigree involved.

Canada beat Germany, 9-0. Rejean Beauchemin of the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) held the fort in net, stopping all 17 shots as the Canadians threw 52 pucks at Youri Ziffzer and Thomas Greiss, making good on nine of those shots. Anthony Stewart and Sidney Crosby scored twice each, and the other five goals went to WHL players. Andrew Ladd and Ryan Getzlaf of Calgary each scored, Clarke MacArthur and Cam Barker of Medicine Hat each scored, and so did Colin Fraser of Red Deer. Fraser's teammate Dion Phaneuf had three assists, and Nigel Dawes of Kootenay had two assists.

Russia beat Belarus, 7-2. Young Washington Capital draftee Alexander Ovechkin scored twice, and so did Roman Volshenko, to account for the bulk of Russia's scoring. The Russians came away with a 3-0 lead after the first period on goals by Sergei Shirokov, Ovechkin, and Voloshenko. Siarhei Kolasau scored for Belarus in the second period, but this was answered by Ovechkin's goal to give the Russians a 4-1 lead. Viachislau Shypila cut the deficit to two goals early in the third period, but then the Russians exploded for three of their own. Russia outshot Belarus 37-28. Andrei Kuznetsov stopped 26 for Russia, and Stepan Goryachevskikh stopped 30 for Belarus.

Tonight: Czech Republic vs. Switzerland, Finland vs. Sweden, Belarus vs. United States, Slovakia vs. Germany
Tomorrow: Canada vs. Finland, Switzerland vs. Russia, United States vs. Czech Republic, Sweden vs. Slovakia
New Year's Day: medal round begins

Have a jolly-rific Wednesday, everybody.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

GAME 26: 76ERS 114, SUPERSONICS 107 

76ers 114, SuperSonics 107

[Final update ~10:30p -- This post was retitled and re-timed after the game ended. For a post on the HUGE Gonzaga game, scroll down one post for Jeremy's piece. The tense was also changed from present to past in the notes.]

1st qtr
Jerome James dunked on first play of the game after the tipoff. Guess what? The 76ers can hit their shots if you don't put hands in their faces. Reggie Evans had a nice offensive board and foul-and-one down low around the 6-minute mark. Luke Ridnour had a smooth drive and layup from the right side around halfway point. Sam Dalembert is tall; he's gotten in the way of a few Sonic rebounds even with a few Sonics around him. Ridnour hit his first three shots. Allen Iverson started out 1-for-7 from the field. The Sonics were tagged with eight of the first nine fouls in the game, two each on Ridnour and Vlad Radmanovic. Danny Fortson down low late in the quarter got hacked multiple times trying to get up a shot...Nate got the technical (Danny keeps cool). TRADE RON MURRAY. The man is just not fitting in with this team. I know he's definitely not in his usual role because his minutes are limited right now, but that guy is not a point guard. I don't want to see him bringing the ball up the floor. He's a shoot first/pass second player. Hell, he might be a shoot first/try to drive to the basket second/pass third player. Nick Collison had a nice tip-in off a Daniels missed three with one second left. The Sonics were down 29-26 at the end of the quarter. Neither team had a sizable or commanding lead or run in the quarter.

2nd qtr
Fortson had his way in the post a lot more after McMillan got the technical. At 8:12 to go in the quarter, Allen is 1-for-6. At 7:15 to go, a Willie Greene three opened the 76ers' biggest lead at 9. Fortson got hit with his third foul at 6:27...at this point I thought he would foul out later in the game due to the refs' quickness on the whistles. Ray Allen around the 6-min mark made a horrible jump pass in transition that was intercepted by Iverson; Allen fouled him on the other end. Ray Allen was having a crappy night. Fortson was the team's leading scorer tonight with 11 when he went to the bench. The second-leading scorer tonight? Luke Ridnour with 9, as of 5:39 left in the half. The 76ers eventually opened up a 12-point lead. How did this game get such a whistle-happy set of refs that's so one-sided? This is crazy. I thought we might see Ibrahim Kutluay get 10 minutes in the fourth quarter at this pace. Philadelphia was getting way too many easy baskets. Seattle was down 59-48 at half.

Allen Iverson was 3-for-13 from the field at half. Why did the 76ers lead this game? They had hit 16 of 21 from the free-throw line, whereas Iverson's free-throw numbers equaled that of the entire Sonic team, 6-for-8. That's a ten-point difference right there, and the Sonics were down 11 at the half. Iverson had 13 despite his crappiness from the field, and Kenny Thomas (13) and Willie Green (12) were also in double figures. Philly was getting way too many easy shots, both in part of Sonic defensive brain farts and Philly moving the ball just enough so the defense was a step slow. Fortson led the Sonics at half with 11 in only 9 minutes, and Luke Ridnour had 9 on 4-of-5 shooting. Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen were a combined 5-for-15 at half for 13 points. Seven different Sonics turned the ball over for eight team turnovers (Murray twice).

Thanks to the FSNNW broadcast for the heads-up, the Sonics got whooped 14-0 on the fast break, 15-5 on points off turnovers, and 3-1 on blocks in the first half.

3rd qtr
Philly opened up a 13-point lead at 9:40. The 76ers seemed like they were capitalizing on every single Sonic turnover. Reggie Evans forced a turnover and came the other way for a foul-and-one to get the Sonics within 6 at 66-60 (8:00). A Ridnour 3 at about 7:10 got the Sonics within 5 at 68-63. Allen made a nice pass down low to Evans for an easy layup (7 points in the quarter for him) to get the Sonics within three at 68-65, and Philly called timeout. The 76ers were making a few bad passes and turning over the ball here and there, and they were actually missing some shots for a change. Then James gets whistled for a flagrant foul right after the timeout; not good. At 6:30, James swatted an Iverson driving shot. Evans blew straight through for a dunk at 5:57 (72-67). Evans after a missed Philly shot got an easy transition layup on the other end to get the Sonics to 72-69. A Sonic transition defensive mental lapse enabled a Willie Green dunk. Shameful. Ray Allen finally got to the line at 3:49 to bring the Sonics within three at 76-73, but that was quickly answered on the other end by a three from that hack Kyle Korver. Philly seemed to be able and willing to weather these Sonic mini-runs. Iverson made some beautiful moves on the perimeter to blow straight into the lane and hit a layup. The Sonics hit all 13 of their free throws in the quarter. The Sonics were down 87-79 after three quarters. For the Sonics to win this game, it might not take quite the comeback they had against Memphis, but they're going to have to ratchet up the defense somehow without getting fouls called on them (which hasn't been easy for them tonight) and to either warm up from the perimeter on offense or get a bunch of easy baskets. Basically that means move the ball more and get Ron Murray off the floor.

4th qtr
Ray Allen was wide open underneath for an easy basket off the inbound, the first basket of the quarter. The most unnerving thing about Kyle Korver nailing threes against your team is that you can convince yourself from the above-court cam that he's Ashton Kutcher. That thought is not a delightful one. Iverson hit a three falling down to give the 76ers a 96-81 lead. The Sonics seemed like they were getting absolutely zero offensive rebounds. They weren't coming up with their missed shots, and the fact that Fortson was on the bench with five fouls didn't help. That wasn't wholly Fortson's fault, I don't think, because the Sonics weren't able to do much of anything on defense tonight, and if they did, they get whistled for it. The 76ers went to the line 15 more times than the Sonics as I typed this (~8 min left in game). Ray dunked as the trailer from Collison at 7:38 to bring the Sonics within 10 (96-86), but that was answered on the other end. An Allen three at 6:24 got the Sonics within 7 at 98-91...Vlad missed a three earlier on the same possession but Ridnour somehow came up with the rebound and kicked to Allen. Allen scored all of the Sonics' points in the quarter up to that point (12). Vlad fouled out halfway through the period...what a crappy night from the field for him. Rashard Lewis couldn't buy a basket tonight; it was not an All-Star night for him. I'd have to say Iverson's running righthander in the lane with 4:24 to go sealed this game as the 76ers took a 104-91 lead. Ray Allen made a move in the paint for a foul-and-one to get the Sonics to 108-100 at 2:30, answered on the other end once again by Iverson with the shot clock running down. The foul fest started with 54 seconds to go and the Sixers up 112-102.

Here's some postgame notes before I delve full-on into the boxscore...

Well, a funny thing happened. Allen Iverson and Ray Allen shot crappy to start the game, but Iverson took the game over late and Ray Allen was the only Sonic who showed up on the offensive end in the fourth quarter.

The big Sonic that didn't show up at all? Rashard Lewis. Since he's been predominately consistent this year, let's just hope tonight is an aberration for Rashard. It definitely wasn't an All-Star night for him.

Also not showing up in any way tonight was Vlad Radmanovic. Craig Ehlo was on the broadcast saying that Vlad brings a lot more than just scoring to this team. But this team needs Vlad's 12 or 13 off the bench every night. They need a clutch three here and there off the bench from Vlad. Tonight they got next to nothing.

Ron Murray remains nonexistent in all but one game he's played since coming back from injury. He wasn't the master bricklayer tonight, but he did have a turnover-to-points ratio of 3:2 (okay, so I looked at the boxscore once) [Edit Wed ~1:56p -- I originally had him listed with 4 turnovers, but I might have confused that with his amount of rebounds].

It was Antonio Daniels' first game back, so I wasn't expecting too much from him in the first place.

So who actually did show up for the Sonics?

Luke Ridnour looks like he shook off the shooting woes for at least one night, and his assist numbers were solid as well. Dare I say he indeed had a Brent Barry-type night.

Danny Fortson had limited minutes because the referees were so whistle-happy, but he was the Sonics' leading scorer for a good portion of this game, and it stood that way for quite a while even as he was on the bench with too many fouls while the Sonics were out there stinking it up.

Reggie Evans had a great night, providing a spark, forcing some turnovers, and getting a couple of key offensive rebounds.

So what to make of this? When Rashard Lewis and Vlad Radmanovic have off nights, it's a huge blow to the offense (let's say that's 30 points right there), and even Luke Ridnour getting his shot back can't make up for that difference. The referees were calling massive fouls early on the Sonics, and Philadelphia was able to build and sustain their lead at the free throw line. Fortson sat for more than one stretch for getting high in the foul count, but he didn't foul out. Radmanovic was the one that fouled out, and I think he got called twice for setting the moving screen. The Sonics got absolutely torched on the fast break, and I'll wait for those numbers to come up. All in all, by the time Ray Allen was able to do anything, it was too late.

Also, Allen Iverson is good.

It's a shame this was a home game. The Sonics, however, are still a solid 5-1 on the tail ends of back-to-back sets.

Ray Allen 32 pts/3 reb/8 ast (12-24 FG, 5-6 free throws, 3-10 3pt), Luke Ridnour 16 pts/5 reb/9 ast (6-9 FG, 2-4 3pt), Reggie Evans 14 pts/4 reb (6-9 FG), Rashard Lewis 10 pts/6 reb/2 stl (4-15 FG, 2-9 3pt, ZERO free throw attempts)

Danny Fortson 13 pts/6 reb (18 minutes), Nick Collison 5 pts/6 reb/2 ast, Antonio Daniels 6 pts/3 ast (20 minutes), Vlad Radmanovic 3 pts/2 reb/3 turnovers (1-8 FG, 1-7 3pt, 18 minutes, fouled out), Ron Murray 2 pts/4 reb/2 stl/3 turnovers

Jerome James Watch
4 pts/1 reb/2 blk/1 turnover (16 minutes)

shot 44.8% from the field to Philly's 47.5%, shot 8-for-33 from downtown (24.2%), shot 21-for-23 from the line (91.3%...Philly had 40 attempts and nailed 32), outrebounded Philly 39-37, had 17 turnovers (off which Philly scored 23 points), got called for 32 fouls (Philly had 20), got 7 fastbreak points (Philly had 23)

I guess in Peja Drobnjak's words, the Sonics' uniforms would be "wet with the tears of sadness." Okay, not really.

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On Dec. 18, Gonzaga defeated then-#3 Georgia Tech in Las Vegas.

Tonight, the Zags knock off the #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys, 78-75, in the Touchtone Energy All-College Classic in Oklahoma City.

While the game was played at the Ford Center, it was basically Gallagher-Iba South. The majority of the Ford Center crowd was pro-Cowboys, with a few Oklahoma Sooners fans hanging around from the early game, which the Sooners won over Tulsa, 70-64.

Tonight's game between Gonzaga and Oklahoma State definitely had that NCAA Tournament-feel to it. I almost had to look at the calendar and check to see if we were in March already. But we're in late December, just a week before conference play starts up for the majority of college basketball.

Oklahoma State is a veteran ballclub who went to the Final Four last season. But tonight, they were outworked and outhustled by Gonzaga. J.P. Batista led the way for Gonzaga, scoring 20 points off the bench. He had to play extended minutes tonight since Ronny Turiaf was limited by his right ankle and foul trouble, scoring 10 points in 18 minutes of action. Batista was 9-of-10 from the field. If there is one positive about Turiaf not playing a lot of minutes tonight, it's the fact that Batista got some experience. Believe me, this game will help him once West Coast Conference play starts. Adam Morrison scored 19 points and Erroll Knight had 11.

It's obvious that Gonzaga is a much better team than the one that showed up against Illinois back on Nov. 27. Since that blowout loss in Indianapolis, the Zags have defeated three teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25, Washington, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma State. The Zags will head to Columbia, Missouri on Thursday night to take on the Missouri Tigers in the new Missouri Arena, formerly known as the Paige Sports Arena. Check out this humorous take on the new Missouri arena (it's from a Kansas fan). The Mizzou game will be on ESPN 2 at 5 p.m. Pacific, 7 p.m. Central.

What a big win for Gonzaga tonight. I think this win was more impressive than the Georgia Tech victory in Las Vegas, simply because they had to play in front of a hostile crowd. I will not be surprised if Gonzaga and Oklahoma State meet again in March. I'd pay money to see these two teams play each other, no doubt about it. Even with the loss tonight, I still believe Oklahoma State will win the Big XII. They're a damn good ballclub and won't let this loss affect them too much.

From what I've seen so far, I think this could be the best Gonzaga team since the 2001 team that went to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to Purdue. What will help Gonzaga this season is that the West Coast Conference has improved. I think I heard last week that the RPI (Rating Percentage Index) for the WCC is 8th overall. But ratings aside, the WCC won't just be Gonzaga and a bunch of sadsacks.

Gonzaga. Mizzou. Thursday. ESPN 2. Quin Snyder is a douchebag.

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The Sonics have faced a Jeff Bzdelik-coached team of Denver Nuggets for the last time, because Bzdelik has been fired as coach of the Nuggets. Michael Cooper of Lakers lore steps in as the interim head coach. I don't think I can say Bzdelik got the Eric Musselman treatment from the Nuggets, but this isn't totally his fault. Then again, it never is when the coach is fired.

That said, with Bzdelik out as coach of the Nuggets, I guess I'm glad I don't have to see his face as often. Why? To me, he looked like one of Conan O'Brien's "If They Mated" creations if you would have spliced DNA of Danny Ainge and KING-5 morning/midday anchor Allen Schauffler.

taken from informationleafblower.typepad.com

KING-5 photo

Denver Post file photo

I think I have about an 80% outside agreement rate when it comes to facial resemblances. You might see this one, you might not.

In other KING-5 related news, master gardener Ciscoe Morris is absolutely insane and is a true asset to northwest broadcast television.

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Finally, someone comes up with the information that I want.

Yahoo Sports --- NFC Scenarios

Philadelphia 13-2
Atlanta 11-4
Green Bay 9-6
Seattle 8-7
Minnesota 8-7
Carolina 7-8

New Orleans 7-8
St. Louis 7-8

Week 17 winners 4 seed 5 seed 6 seed Tiebreakers (if necesary)
(Bold indicates Week 17 winners)
SEA MIN NO STL SEA 9-7 MIN 9-7 NO 8-8 NO beat STL
SEA MIN NO SEA 9-7 MIN 9-7 NO 8-8
SEA CAR STL SEA 9-7 CAR 8-8 STL 8-8 conf: CAR 7-5/STL 7-5/MIN 5-7
CAR beat STL
SEA NO STL SEA 9-7 STL 8-8 MIN 8-8 conf: STL 7-5/NO 6-6/MIN 5-7
MIN beat NO
SEA CAR SEA 9-7 CAR 8-8 MIN 8-8 conf: CAR 7-5/MIN 5-7
SEA NO SEA 9-7 MIN 8-8 NO 8-8 MIN beat NO
MIN CAR STL STL 8-8 MIN 9-7 SEA 8-8 STL swept SEA; SEA beat CAR
MIN NO STL STL 8-8 MIN 9-7 SEA 8-8 STL swept SEA; SEA beat NO
MIN CAR SEA 8-8 MIN 9-7 CAR 8-8
MIN NO SEA 8-8 MIN 9-7 NO 8-8
CAR STL STL 8-8 SEA 8-8 CAR 8-8 STL swept SEA; SEA beat CAR and MIN
conf: CAR 7-5/MIN 5-7
NO STL STL 8-8 SEA 8-8 MIN 8-8 STL swept SEA
SEA beat MIN and NO; MIN beat NO
CAR SEA 8-8 CAR 8-8 MIN 8-8 conf: CAR 7-5/MIN 5-7
NO SEA 8-8 MIN 8-8 NO 8-8 MIN beat NO

If CAR and NO tie, CAR (7-8-1) wins the No. 6 seed if STL loses or ties.

In an unrelated note, Killswitch Engage's "The End Of Heartache" is a great album.

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Add this to your timewasting collection.

It's the Pass to Pinky game, in "honor" of Philadelphia Eagles WR Todd Pinkston!

The object of the game is to hit Pinkston in the hands with the perfect pass. Donovan McNabb will be moving from left to right, trying to find Pinkston. An easy pass is worth more points than a hard pass. If only there was a game that featured Koren Robinson.

"I just need to do a better job of catching the ball"

"Tell Coach Reid we gotta run the ball more!"

"I lost it in the lights!"


We can only hope the Seahawks get a chance at Pinkston and the Eagles in the playoffs.

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Let me pass along three things that have the closest thing to an endorsement I could give out.

-- Paul at NGF3 used to link this, but it disappeared from his sidebar during his WordPress renaissance. The link in question? The Greatest Internet Sports Games of All Time, of course. Paul will be glad to know that Blast Billiards probably took somewhere near 100 hours of time away from my schoolwork as a college senior. I graduated anyway. That's called getting things done and still living life. You rule, Paul. [Edit ~12:17p -- The link has since been added to NGF3. Yippee!! Games for everyone!! The assault on productivity continues!!]

-- My favorite game here (WARNING: there's an F-word on that page, if you need that work-safe caveat) is probably Stack Trace, where you have to click on overlapping sticks until you get to the bottom of the pile. Another favorite of mine is Primetime because I was a math geek in a past life and it has to do with prime numbers. However, reading the description for the Lagland game leads me to believe it may be one of the most evil games ever invented, though not half as evil as many of the ones here or the game I posted here last week.

-- Lastly, I've been using the Trillian chat software/hybrid messenger thing for about three years now. It handles my MSN/AOL/Yahoo contact lists all at once, and I can pull stuff from past conversations. I used to do this when I was bored and felt like posting something, and some of the Mariner-blasting conversations between Jeremy and I made it into blogspace.

But what really sets the new Trillian Basic 3.0 apart? The mouse-over Wikipedia capabilities. Seriously, you can probably get into any chat with any random person who might know a ton more than you, and you could probably hold your own in the conversation. It's amazing.

Observe a screen grab from an inane conversation about childhood TV shows I was having with Jeremy...

Trillian is freakin' nuts

Mouse over the dotted-lined words or phrases, and you get a line or two for a description, and a paragraph if you're lucky. It's mind-blowing, really.

Links to all of the above are under Miscellaneous Links on the sidebar for future reference.

Enjoy some, none, or all of those. I'm doing the latter.

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Last night marked a Sonic win, the Eagles laying down for the Rams and putting any Seahawks NFC West division champions celebrations on hold, the return of WHL and AHL play, and Day 3 of the World Juniors for hockey.

Today? The Sonics host the 76ers, North Carolina hosts UNC-Wilmington, Gonzaga is on the road against Oklahoma State (HUUUUUUUUGE game), and there's the requisite hockey action.

Here goes me...

Congratulations to Trevor Hoffman on winning the 2005 Hutch Award. Learn more about Trevor's credentials and event details by reading the article or read what Derek posted.

Most of the people reading this site hate the Yankees, but acknowledge that Yankee Stadium is steeped in the annals of baseball history. Sadly, part of that is now gone as Eddie Layton, Yankee Stadium's organ player for 36 years, died on Sunday. I do remember some of his work, and that organ at Yankee Stadium sounded like a pretty old one. But there's nothing like a cheesy organ playing at a stadium, especially if it's taking the place of crappy top-40 "alternative" music at Safeco Field. Sticking to Yankee Stadium in general, I'd rather hear a cheesy-sounding organ playing anything rather than hearing..."Cotton Eye Joe" by Red Nex at a baseball game. Does anyone remember the video for that song?

In other Yankee news, it's no longer just "the Yankee tax," as play-by-play man John Sterling once called it. The Red Sox and the Angels are now tossing in some money as part of the competitive balance tax. I remember reading an article the first year after the luxury tax came out where the writer (I forgot who it was) applauded George Steinbrenner for not holding back and basically saying "shove it" to the new system, luxury tax be damned. While from one standpoint it might be hilarious to think about it that way, I just like to keep telling myself that George Steinbrenner hasn't won a World Series since 2000.

Let's face it. A win by the Eagles over the Rams last night would have made it way too easy. It's not supposed to be easy with this team, and it won't be on Sunday, either. If that path holds true, the Rams will find some odd way to beat the Jets in the early game and the Seahawks will need to pull off a win over the Falcons, who really shouldn't play Michael Vick for much longer than a couple of opening series, on account of having already clinched a first-round bye and the second seed. Then again, Vick is coming off injury and probably needs some game reps. Of course, if Vick gets injured, Jim Mora Jr. will probably be kicking himself, seeing as to how there's no better seeding or positioning for the Falcons to obtain. However, even if the Jets lose before the Seahawks take the field, the Seahawks still have a winning record to play for, because .500 sucks. I think the Seahawks should be playing full-bore on Sunday, and I think, like Coach Holmgren, that Matt Hasselbeck should play if he's capable. Of course, this flies in the face of what I heard on Sunday's postgame show on the grandpa station, when some caller said the Seahawks should start Seneca Wallace and have him play the whole game. I'd be okay with that if Seneca puts on an Atlanta jersey on Sunday and plays the whole game.

This is just bad news right here. If you swiped a debit card at the Q through October, you might want to keep some tabs on your debit accounts and find a way to throw some money in there if you're low. Aramark apparently had some snafus with their card-reading software, and let's just say that the transactions may be going through all at once. As bad as this is, I don't think this quite ranks with Ogden Entertainment at the Kingdome and their hot dog wizardry. I remember the Almost Live! sketch entitled "Kingdome Kookin'," a sketch where the late Big Jim was asked to reheat hot dogs, which he did by sticking them in his armpits. He was wearing a tank top at the time.

Romero also puts out the playoff scenarios that have come out thanks to the Eagles' all-out failure to look like anything remotely resembling a 13-2 team last night. Steven Jackson ran for 148 yards last night, but left with a bruised knee in the fourth quarter. While I don't see a bruised knee sidelining Jackson for the game against the Jets, if he's hobbled at all, the Rams might be screwed. Why? In the last three games he's played, Marshall Faulk has had 47 carries for a grand total of 89 yards. That's not even two yards a carry, folks. I've got a game plan for the Jets, and it's got something to do with dropping a bunch of guys back into pass coverage.

On the injury front, the injuries to Walter Jones (ankle twist), Mack Strong (thigh bruise), and Michael Boulware (ankle swell) all aren't as serious as originally thought. Matt Hasselbeck and Mike Holmgren both expect the former to start on Sunday. Bobby Engram thankfully will be the full-time punt returner on Sunday -- his long punt return was the best special teams return of the year (my opinion) and it got the ball rolling last Sunday.

The Marvin Williams Watch
The North Carolina Tar Heels are home against UNC-Wilmington tonight and Cleveland State on Thursday. Marvin's team averages 89.7 points per game, second in the nation to a certain local team...

The Huskies lead the nation in scoring, with 91.6 points per contest. Washington is off until opening Pac-10 play on New Year's Eve against the Cal Bears.

Gonzaga is on the road with a HUGE game in Oklahoma City tonight against 3rd-ranked Oklahoma State and a game in Columbia on Thursday against Missouri.

For my thoughts on the game, scroll down two posts or click here if archived.

The Sonics got their first win in Utah since the 2000-2001 season even with Ray Allen still feeling the effects of his illness that sprung up during the east coast trip. Something I didn't hit with the game post was that the Jazz were held to 6-for-23 shooting in the fourth quarter.

This was also the first time Nate McMillan won in Utah as a coach. I was sitting there yelling at my TV when McMillan called that timeout in the third quarter with the Jazz up by 8. It was amazing how quickly it all turned after that timeout. The Sonics got two quick baskets and started a 13-0 run. Later, 17 of the Sonics' 25 fourth-quarter points came from the bench.

In the Fortson File, he was on the floor for 11 minutes before getting whistled. He's also got a lead of two on Rasheed Wallace in the technical fouls department. Amazing. Of course, I'm thinking the Detroit version of Rasheed is a less T-prone version than the one that was in the Rose City for so long.

Tonight vs. Philadelphia
Thursday at Atlanta
New Year's Eve at Charlotte

Lethbridge beat Seattle, 3-2. Lethbridge is missing defenseman Brent Seabrook, who is playing for Canada in the World Junior Championships. It didn't matter tonight. Even with the loss, the T-Birds remain five points up on Everett. The Hurricanes scored the first two goals in this one, one in the first period, and another early in the second period. Aaron Gagnon's 21st of the year cut the Lethbridge lead in half midway through the second period, and Derek Couture got a puck off the boards and tied the game with a goal right out of the dressing room in the third period to tie it. Kris Versteeg put one past Bryan Bridges for the game-winner 10:46 into the final period. The goal was unassisted, which could mean a few things. I'm thinking breakaway or steal. In any event, it went off the crossbar and in. Scott Jackson of Seattle rattled one off a post earlier, but Lethbridge's Aaron Sorochan was able to smother it. Seattle outshot Lethbridge 31-26. Bryan Bridges stopped 23 for Seattle, and Aaron Sorochan stopped 29 for the Hurricanes.

Manitoba shut out Cleveland, 4-0. Wade Flaherty made good on all 30 shots he faced as the Moose blanked the Barons (Sharks' affiliate). The Moose waited for all of 19 seconds to get the lead on a goal by Jeff Heerema. Most of the first-period play took place in the Cleveland zone, with the Moose outshooting the Barons 12-4. Alexandre Burrows tallied for Manitoba's second goal about eight minutes after Heerema's. In the second period, Ryan Kesler scored on a two-man advantage and Jason King scored at the end of the same seven-minute powerplay to get the Moose's final tally. Wade Flaherty earned his shutout bigtime when he stopped all 17 of the Barons' third-period shots. The Moose outshot the Barons 33-30. Flaherty stopped all his shots for Manitoba, while Nolan Schaefer stopped 29 for Cleveland. Kesler had an assist along with his goal, and Tomas Mojzis had two assists; these were the two multipoint players for the Moose.

Tonight: Lethbridge at Vancouver, Spokane at Everett, Portland at Prince George, Manitoba at Cleveland
Tomorrow: Everett at Seattle, Portland at Prince George
New Year's Eve: Seattle at Portland, Chicago at Manitoba, Tri-City at Puget Sound
New Year's Day: Spokane at Vancouver, Seattle at Everett, Portland at Tri-City, Tri-City at Puget Sound

There's a connection here. Here's Braydon Coburn of the Portland Winter Hawks fishing for the puck off the boards as a member of Team Canada.
photo by Justin Kase Conder

United States beat Switzerland, 6-4. Ryan Callahan and Kevin Porter scored in the first and second periods, respectively to get the USA a 2-0 lead going into the third period. In said third period, eight goals were scored in a span of 6:21, four goals per side. The Swiss actually scored the first two goals to tie the game, a tie that lasted for all of 30 seconds, when Drew Stafford of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux made it 3-2 USA on the power play. Team USA never let go of the lead from that point. Six different players scored the goals for the USA, the most heralded of which is probably Patrick O'Sullivan. Switzerland outshot the USA 35-30. Al Montoya stopped 31 for the States, and Michael Tobler turned away 24 for the Swiss.

Canada beat Sweden, 8-1. A couple of big two-man advantage kills helped the Canadians keep the Swedes at bay. Seven different players scored for Canada. Sidney Crosby scored twice on the power play, and he's been in the news for saying some things about possibly playing in the NHL no matter what situation arises when the league comes back (re: replacement players). Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen both scored goals, as did Nigel Dawes of the Kootenay Ice of the same league. Dawes' Kootenay teammate Jeff Glass stopped 16 of 17 in net for Canada. While Brent Seabrook wasn't with his regular team facing the Thunderbirds tonight, he had two assists for the Canadians. Christopher Heino-Lindberg stopped 24 of 30 for Sweden (and 15 of 16 in the first period) before he was pulled after the sixth Canada goal.

Russia beat Czech Republic, 4-1. Strong play on defense and goalie killing off penalties got this win for the Russians. Of course, a goal and two assists by Evgeni Malkin along with a goal and an assist from Sergei Shirokov didn't hurt either. The Russians led 2-0 after 20 minutes, and got to within 3-1 on a Zbynek Hrdel shot from the point, but the Russians held the Czechs scoreless the rest of the way. Russia outshot the Czech Republic 32-26. Anton Khubodin stopped 25 for Russia, and Marek Schwarz of the Vancouver Giants stopped 28 for the Czechs.

Slovakia shut out Finland, 2-0. If you ask me, this was the surprise of the night. The Finns went scoreless in five tries on the power play and couldn't put anything past Jaroslav Halak. Tomas Bulik scored the first goal of the game 5:25 into the second period, and it held up as the game-winner. For good measure, Andrej Meszaros of the Vancouver Giants punched in an empty-netter to put the game away for the Slovaks. Slovakia outshot Finland 27-19. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 for the Finns, and Halak stopped all 19 for Slovakia.

Upcoming for the World Junior Championships...
Tonight: Germany vs. Canada, Russia vs. Belarus
Tomorrow: Czech Republic vs. Switzerland, Finland vs. Sweden, Belarus vs. United States, Slovakia vs. Germany
Thursday: Canada vs. Finland, Switzerland vs. Russia, United States vs. Czech Republic, Sweden vs. Slovakia
New Year's Day: medal round begins

Go have yourself the best derned rootin-tootin' Tuesday you've had in a while. If anyone out there ever actually hears me say that in person, I give you permission to slap me across the face.

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